Nothing works better than a glass of wine at a party. I grabbed one right away as I entered Chef G’s house and without even bothering the ‘swirl and sip’ process took in a few sips. The wine always serves its purpose, one that it calms my nerves that I usually get when I tend to meet my professors outside the walls of the class and two it helps to blend with the party and socialize. This glass of what I thought may be Cabernet Sauvignon (thanks to CIA’s wine class one tends to decipher the drink even at a party) did just the same…
Chef Gs house looked completely different from what I had seen of it the last time with small flaming torches lit all along the parkway and around the house, mellow lighting, the wonderfully furnished kitchen now loaded with an array of finger foods from pitas and corn chips to guacamoles, artichoke-lemon dips and the huge flat screen TV hooked up in the hall displaying Bravo’s Top Chef release countdown. A pleasant atmosphere with people exchanging gossips over a glass of drink, a slight laugh here, a chuckle there, all of us gathered to see one among us star in the renowned Top Chef series. But as I glanced around the room one simple question popped up in my mind…was that the only reason that we had all met there?
I found my question being answered as Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons began their ruthless criticism on the cheftestants preparations – We were there because of food, a burning passion shared by all those there, be it to create food or serve it or even study the gastronomic pages of history, it was this link that had brought us together. Even as Kenny began to cut the trout skin-on, I knew Eric Ripert would be swooping down hard on him like an angry vulture for keeping the skin; at the same moment my friend whispered about Kenny’s actions in front of the Le Bernardin chef known for his Michelin class fish cooking skills. As each contestant introduced their dish I saw my Mediterranean Chef’s eyes narrow with concentration, I felt as if she was imagining the blend of flavors in her mind, contemplating the combinations, the tastes; I was myself doing the same, the coffee-cinnamon rubbed fish, bacon froth, fat free mousse (well that wasn’t surely to my taste…fat is good when needed!), all swirled in my mind. We were people of different ages, different backgrounds, different levels of professionalism and different goals in career but all had roots from a common seed, food. I could feel us all empathize with Chef G on how it feels on being one slice away in timing a deboning of a chicken be it on a TV reality show or in the confines of a class, it was a question of being in search of perfection and precision. With every commercial break we were curious to know what happened behind the screen and we intently listened to Chef as she narrated her experience. I have followed the top chef series whenever I could but it was definitely a unique experience to see it with my fellow aspiring culinarians, professors, chefs and specially the one cheftestant that we all have our eyes fixed on in the series, Chef G. To me Chef did not seem to be just a contestant but a symbolic idol representing the chefs and the chef-to-be community of the common world. A strong personality, balancing a daily social routine life away from the cut-throat food race of New York City yet keeping pace with the modern trends and dedicated in passing over the skills to young, knowledge thirsty minds like ours. It was just the premier of Top Chef, but for us she was already on the top.
… My cabernet got replaced with a sparkling Iron horse Brut; it was a smooth exchange from one wine glass to another more so like a life transition. May be it was the overwhelming atmosphere or the wine in me but I began to think the power of passion and how it is capable of changing a person; some leave a life far off behind in the treasure hunt of knowledge while some sacrifice a part of their life in focusing to win a ruthless race out there to achieve a goal that has long been set by them. Success seems to be like an emulsion of endless struggles, plans, progressive achievements blended together with hard work in the right direction; not to forget luck is the emulsifier in this.
I was pulled back from my reverie by people clapping the end of the premier. As I put down my glass and got up to leave, my mind reached out to all those who were running on this ever burning fuel called passion, right from Chef G to my friends and to everyone out there including myself and wished them the best of the best of success in the coming future.